As urban legend has it, a man named David Bradley owned a confectionary stand on the Atlantic City boardwalk, at the turn of the 20th century. After a night of heavy storming, Bradley returned to find his stand flooded and his candies soaked with seawater. He decided to sell the taffy anyway, jokingly calling it “salt water taffy.”
Bradley’s marketing ploy worked—driving fellow Atlantic City taffy-makers, James Candy Company and Fralinger’s, to rebrand their product as well. “Salt water” taffy and the health of the tourist-reliant Jersey shore economy have been inextricable since.